COVID: From a pandemic to a joke
COVID has taken the United States – and especially North Dakota – from a pandemic to a joke that would be funny except so many people died needlessly in the transformation.
The problem all started when the national administration lacked cognitive flexibility – the ability to recognize new facts and respond to them.
Any rational person would recognize COVID was a national problem requiring a national solution. Federalism in this crisis was badly outdated by the national economy, society, communications and entertainment. We had grown up to become full-fledged national community and failed to recognize it.
This is a different country than when federalism was created and states were reasonable communities to make local decisions. However, important decisions are no longer being made by states. Because states are always intentionally broke, the federal government has used its resources to buoy up state governments and buy into the power structure.
Federalism is a paper tiger, supported primarily by those who benefit from a system of government that is unable to act.
When the pandemic cloud appeared on the horizon, President Trump lost no time transferring the responsibility to 50 states to solve a national problem. And, generally speaking, the governors didn’t have the guts to accept the responsibility so they passed it on to the cities, counties and school districts.
As responsibility moved down the ladder, more officials became involved and it seems that all of them had different ideas. So some local governments refused to follow the governors; governors refused to follow the president. Everybody involved became a vaccine genius overnight.
Everyone who believed in the sanctity of life should be mourning in sackcloth and ashes but those who claimed that the sanctity of life was important were among the rebellious. In a fit of self-importance, churches acted as though all of their parishioners would go to hell unless they met every Sunday, COVID be damned.
The good public image the Apostle Paul wanted for Christianity was tarnished by the contentious conduct of the Christian community.
Not only all did officialdom demonstrate a lack of cognitive flexibility, but the rank and file people in the cities and farms aided and abetted a mixed response to the pandemic.
North Dakota was among the leaders in the resistance, being among the states with the fewest vaccinated citizens. It was the independence born in the frontier days that made North Dakota a standout against vaccinations. We lacked cognitive flexibility.
By resisting the scientific facts, we violated our own value of human life. People died – and are still dying – because we refused, and still refuse, to get our act together.
Unfortunately, the pattern has been set. There is no backing up or second tries. With the bitter division among scientists, legislators, governors and interest groups, there is little chance of improving that messy landscape.
Medical workers are wearing masks, so are folks in search of medical care. Early on, some national companies brought the hammer down but that soon subsided when customers resisted.
Throw Masks Away?
The situation has become so chaotic that I sometimes feel foolish wearing a mask in such a chaotic mess. After all, the mask is not to protect me but to protect others in the event I am a carrier.
Those of us who have faithfully followed science with two shots and a boost should maybe just throw our masks away. If the vaccinated get COVID, it will be relatively harmless. When everyone quits wearing a mask, only those who have resisted vaccination will get the original fatal disease.
But then there are thousands in North Dakota whose immune systems have been compromised in cancer and other treatment. The unvaccinated are a life and death threat to them. It’s time to talk about community and the common good.